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2l6          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

called hsiuts'ai (B.A.) and chiijen (M.A.) respectively. Still
a greater majority never reached even the first grade, and they
were called the "students" or chusheng. There were many
such "students" (men of mature age) fed by their districts from
official or municipal foundations, and these swarmed in the
countryside like so many unemployed.

Among the first two grades or those of no grade at all, the
better type became schoolmasters, while the worse ones became
the "local gentry." They were amateur lawyers who handled
lawsuits for a living, working hand in hand with the yamen
bureaucrats, or bought out "tax monopolies,9' working hand
in hand with the local rich. They did not know anything
about scholarship except that they could repeat the texts of
the Five Classics by rote, and in most cases also the official
commentaxies by Ghu Hsi, which were for them the one and
only correct interpretation of Confucian truths. They could
not write good poetry, and their training for the official
examinations was so limited in scope and the eight-legged
essay style they had learned was so conventional that they
could not write either a correct newspaper report of events or a
simple business note involving rather vulgar names of com-
modities, in which experienced business men easily surpassed
them. But their power was not to be despised. They had a
class consciousness, a class organization, and a class ideology.
I quote in part from Ku Yenwu in his Essays on these
"Students," written at the beginning of the Manchu regime.

There must be half a million of these students in the three
hundred hsien. What they learn is writing for the examina-
tions, and not one in several tens can write decently. Not
one in a thousand really has mastered the classic learning and
could be used by the Emperor. .  . They are excused from
official labour, are free from the oppression of the bureaucrats
and exempt from the punishment of flogging at court, and
may call on magistrates in their scholars' gowns. Hence
many people desire to be students, not necessarily for the
honour of the title, but for the protection of their persons and
their families. Taking seventy per cent as the average, we
have then three hundred and fifty thousand students in the